The Lymphatic System and the Skin
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and just one small area of compromised tissue can initiate a ripple effect, impacting organs, vital systems and general functioning of the whole body.
The lymphatic system consists of a complex networks of tissue and organs, which aid cell nourishment and regeneration, promote immune function and filter metabolic waste, so it is a crucial factor in detoxification.
The lymphatic system transports excess fluid from tissues and cells to the bloodstream and produces lymphocytes, which fight against viruses, fungi and bacteria, thus is a vital part of the immune system. When a lymphatic system functions well, it filters out toxins that may impact on the skin and the immune system, so a sluggish lymphatic system can lead to:-
- impurities being trapped in cells, leading to a loss of elasticity, premature aging and acne
- viscous and toxic lymph which inhibits cell regeneration and repair ie. Also inhibits wound healing
- tissue poisoning due to accumulated waste, which may contribute to acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. These Inflammatory conditions will further impact on how the skin is able to replenish itself
The lymphatic system has 2 characteristics which mean that any changes in lifestyle or medical status can be detrimental to our detoxification capacity. Firstly lymph requires muscle contraction to mechanically be pumped around the body, and secondly, lymph flows against gravity. On top of this, any environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyle, poor nutritional status, lack of sleep, high stress levels and dehydration, can all impact on lymphatic circulation.
Signs of a compromised lymphatic system:-
- skin hardening and thickening
- swelling in fingers, ankles
- bloating and excess weight
- enlarged lymph nodes
- cold hands and feet
- increased flu, colds and sinus infections
- chronic fatigue
- dry, itchy skin
- skin conditions eg.acne, rosacea, psoriasis
- digestive issues
Simple methods to stimulate the lymphatic system include:-
- increasing exercise – the muscle contraction will mechanically pump the fluid around the body
- alternating hot and cold water in the shower – can promote flushing of the toxins by both dilating and contracting the natural pump action
- dry body brushing for several minutes each day before a shower - stimulates the lymphatic system as well as natural oil production
- maintaining hydration, at least 1-2 litres - to help cleanse and hydrate the body
- reducing caffeine and alcohol – these can lead to dehydration
However there are a range of treatments you can also access to give your lymphatic system a boost.
I offer lymphatic drainage and breathwork, which can both boost the lymphatic and immune systems, and reduce any underlying inflammation which can cause ageing and irritation in the skin.
Lymphatic drainage is an effective way to pump the fluid towards the lymph nodes in the body, where it can be drained, whereas breathwork can strengthen the diaphragm which may also have a pumping role, helping to transport lymph into the bloodstream.